Don Bateman, Honeywell’s living legend of aircraft safety, is retiring in May after a distinguished 56-year Honeywell career that is credited by many for saving more lives than anyone in the history of aviation.
“We are losing one of the industry legends and I don’t use that term lightly,” Bob Smith, Honeywell Aerospace Chief Technology Officer and Vice President of Engineering and Technology, said. “There are going to be people that are going to be written about for their contributions to 20th century aviation and Don Bateman definitely will be on that list.”
Considered the world’s authority on Controlled Flight into Terrain protection systems, Bateman is the man behind Honeywell’s first Ground Proximity Warning System in 1975 and the revolutionary Enhanced Ground Proximity Warning System introduced in 1996.
Passionate about aircraft safety ever since witnessing a plane crash as a schoolboy and personally viewing the wreckage site, Bateman was a driving force and leading proponent of the demonstrated safety improvements and increased situational awareness available with the warning systems. His informed advocacy brought rapid acceptance of the product in the industry.
Today, those systems are installed in more than 55,000 aircraft, with the technology helping cut accident risks from one in every 3 million flights to less than one in every 20 million flights.
A Corporate Fellow and Chief Engineer-Technologist for Flight Safety Systems and Technology for Honeywell in Redmond, Wash., Bateman and his team also created Honeywell’s SmartRunway and SmartLanding systems to improve airport safety.
He holds 47 U.S. patents and another 247 foreign patents, with a long list of accolades that include receiving the U.S. Presidential Medal of Technology and Innovation from President Barack Obama in 2011.
He is in the National Inventors Hall of Fame, an Aviation Path Finder in the Museum of Flight, and a Royal Aeronautical Society Fellow. Bateman received Aviation Week’s Laurel for IT/Electronics and its Award for Lifetime Achievement, and in 2014 picked up the Elmer A. Sperry Award for enhancing the art of transportation.
Bateman’s work throughout his Honeywell career also includes innovations in head-up display systems, speed control/autothrottle systems, stall warning systems, angle-of-attack systems, automatic flight control systems and weight-and-balance systems, among many others.
As Bateman begins his retirement with plans for family, travel and avionics consulting, he leaves an illustrious career legacy of improving safety and reducing accidents for all who fly.